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Seattle mayor and police chief give updates on protests and Capitol Hill

Continuing coverage of the protests in Seattle in response to police brutality and racial justice.

Protests continue in Seattle and throughout the country in response to police brutality and racial justice over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis police custody.

Below are updates for Thursday, June 11:

Seattle mayor and police chief give updates on protests and Capitol Hill

Mayor Jenny Durkan sharply criticized President Donald Trump and spoke on the ongoing protests in Capitol Hill, referring to its long history as a space for social activism.

“One of the things this president will never understand is that listening to community is not a weakness, it is a strength,” she said.

She said despite the president's tweets, there's is no imminent threat of an invasion.

Durkan also spoke to the city's racial equity efforts, including looking at the allocation of funds.

“We will not wait for a change in Washington (DC) for Seattle to act. I know we have a lot of work to do, trust was broken, and it must be rebuilt,” she said.

Police Chief Carmen Best made the case that the police department should return its operations to the East Precinct. Best said on the first day since the officers left, the police response times in the neighborhood were over 15 minutes.

“If that is your mother, your sister, your cousin, your neighbor’s kid who is being raped, robbed, assaulted and otherwise victimized, you’re not going to want to have to report that it took police three times longer to get there to provide services to them,” she said.

Best also said that law enforcement should be open to reform, because of a history of injustices, especially against minorities. 

"We have to acknowledge that history, a long history of abuses," Best said. "That doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to evolve and change and do better."

Durkan said any return to the East Precinct will be made carefully, so as not to revert to the situation that had escalated between police and protesters before.

Best said that while there have been rumors and reports on social media regarding threats made to business owners or other people, that no has come forward to the Seattle Police Department to report that this happened to them.

Watch the press conference here:

Tacoma woman charged for allegedly setting Seattle police vehicles on fire during protests

On one of the first nights of protests in Seattle over the death of George Floyd several police vehicles were set on fire in the middle of downtown.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced a 25-year-old Tacoma woman was arrested for allegedly setting those parked cars on fire during the protests on May 30.

Margaret Channon has been charged with five federal counts of arson for burning five Seattle police vehicles in the area of 6th and Pine Streets downtown.

“This defendant was captured by multiple cameras using an accelerant, lit like a blowtorch, to start fires in five vehicles -- putting the public at risk and creating the very real possibility of a structure fire amidst the throng of people protesting downtown,” said U.S. Attorney Moran. “I commend the painstaking work of law enforcement using a variety of images to identify the defendant and locate her so she can be held accountable.”

Updates for Wednesday, June 10: 

Police discuss returning to precinct in Capitol Hill

Seattle police said they are looking to reopen a precinct in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood that was shuttered during ongoing George Floyd protests.

 At a news conference Wednesday, Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said barriers were removed from the front of the precinct after it became a flashpoint between officers and protesters. 

Over the weekend officers used tear gas to disperse demonstrators in the area after they say they were assaulted with projectiles.

However several City Councilmembers say police overreacted. 

Nollette said the precinct has been boarded up because of credible threats that it would be vandalized or burned. 

Nollette said police want to discuss reopening the precinct and noted officers are responding to 911 calls in the area. 

via Associated Press

Inslee says two-thirds of National Guard at protests demobilized

Gov. Jay Inslee said he was not made aware of what protesters are calling an "Autonomous Zone" in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. 

Inslee said two-thirds of the National Guard deployed to Washington protests were demobilizing as of Tuesday. He says a complete demobilization is expected soon. 

Gov. Inslee's Chief of Staff is David Postman said if agencies or police departments need the National Guard, they can still call on them. If the National Guard thinks those requests are valid, they can then get permission from the governor's office to deploy.

Felony assault charge for Seattle man accused of shooting protester after driving into crowd

A felony assault charge was filed against 31-year-old Nikolas Alexander Fernandez after a shooting during Seattle protests on June 7.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed one count of assault in the first degree, a class A felony, against Fernandez for the shooting in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.  

The 31-year-old Seattle man is accused of driving through a crowd and shooting a protester, identified as 27-year-old Daniel Gregory.

According to the statement of probable cause, Fernandez said he was driving in the area of the protests and thought he could get through the crowd. He told police that protesters started kicking his car, yelling at him, and that people were trying to grab him through the open driver’s side window.

Fernandez said the man he shot, identified as 27-year-old Daniel Gregory, grabbed him and the vehicle’s steering wheel through the open window, according to the statement of probable cause. Fernandez told police he was “fearing for his life” when he fired a single shot at Gregory. Fernandez thought he shot Gregory in the chest, according to the statement.